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back to article Apple blocking Dropbox SDK over in-app buying

Developers using the latest Dropbox cloud storage SDK have been having applications rejected from Apple after Cupertino apparently decided that its terms and conditions have been breached. "We have found your app provides access to external mechanisms for purchases or subscriptions to be used in the app, which is not in …

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Hopefully easily fixed.

From what I can see, if DropBox hides the 'buy more capacity' button on the page when referred from iOS that should avoid the wrath of the 'no upselling allowed' gnomes at Cupertino.

"should" being the operative word. It probably also depends on the side of the bed that the reviewer climbed out of this morning.

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Re: Hopefully easily fixed.

Best hope his bed isn't against a wall...

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Children

Maybe Crapple should ban Safari then as I notice it just said 'link to site', not link to purchase page.

Safari is the culprit here, surely, as it allows you to access the web. Preventing users from visiting your own site from your own app in case they go to a page on the site that allows a purchase is childish and pathetic. But utterly Apple, all the same. Perhaps it did go to a purchase page but that's a well-known no-no so unlikely, you'd think.

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Headmaster

Edit...

... in case they then subsequently go to a different page on the same site which allows a purchase...

-- for the pedants

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Anonymous Coward

Android is the same

You do understand that your favourite company in the whole world (employer?) Google has exactly the same policy - and doing the same kind of banning - on Android?

El Reg coverage: Google to app devs: Use our pay system ... OR ELSE

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Re: Children

I thought you are allowed to purchase on the web. You just aren't allowed to purchase in-app. Isn't "click the link, open safari to your web purchase page" allowed?

But yes, Apple appears to be walking a tortuous path.

I'm waiting for Samsung to pop a thunderbolt interface on a galaxy tab... that would be hilarious.

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Trollface

Re: Children

Yes, but you are missing the bigger picture. It's probably not that it can allow you to possibly navigate to another page that you might be able to use to buy something.

The fact is that DropBox competes with iCloud, and hence is to be hobbled, discouraged and eventually banned from iOS. (Remember when there were alternative browser apps in the approvals process, and Apples thoughts on this were something like "We've given the users Safari, they aren't allowed don't need anything else")

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Re: Children

my thoughts exactly- Apple are butthurt because iCloud hasn't had the same level of popularity of Dropbox.

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Re: Children

If you read the 64 page agreement on the iPhone, somewhere around page 37 (and on lots of other pages) it says that all your data is Apple's to do with as they wish, so iCloud is not going to be as popular as Dropbox, where they say your data is your's and they will secure it the best they can.

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Syd

Re: Children

Well, the Kindle iPhone app had to disable the links; which certainly implies it isn't allowed, as it is ruinous to the user experience, so they would only have done it if 'forced'.

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Re: Alternative browsers

I wish people would get passed the, 'no alternate browsers' in iOS nonsense.

As well as Safari (obviously) i also have Mercury and Diigo installed, and in fact if you go to the app store and search for "browser" you get a whole f*cking ream of them (including opera).

I'm not saying Apple aren't control freaks, but in this case, the here say, is exactly that.

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Nanny knows best

It's all about the user experience you see. And if you want to use DropBox without paying the Apple Tax, your experience is about as useful as a Royal without the pampering.

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working with Apple to ... provide an elegant user experience

no chance. Apple have a patent for "elegant user experience".

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Sometime I wonder how Apple has not banned banking programs since Apple gets nothing out of transaction committed through their godlike devices.

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At least you don't normally do much in the banking programs.

What about the eBay and Amazon apps?

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@BristolBachelor The euro xfer rate between banks in EU is like 5e+ alone. Other xfers may be cheaper but still amounting some fee, now imagine the mighty ones request their rightful 30%?

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re. Euro xfer rate

Your post doesn't make sense.

FWIW transfer charges within the SEPA (Single European Payment Area) are the same for cross-border as they are for domestic.

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Syd

You can't use the Amazon app to buy Kindle books, 'cos they can be used on the device.

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<to be read aloud in a voice resembling the cartoon character Yosemete Sam>

I hates Apple.

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So it's not about apps which can access DropBox?

Wasn't clear to me from the article (it's late!) I am looking at getting an app which has a feature to import files from your DropBox onto the iPad, and this article had me a bit concerned.

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Re: So it's not about apps which can access DropBox?

If you don't have a Dropbox account then you need to sign up for one before you can use the app. Some developers which no clue at all about creating a beautiful user experience have been linking directly from the app to a Dropbox account-creation page (or the SDK does it for them) where users may be conned into paying money to a company other than Apple. To improve the experience for its livestock, Apple has decided that it would be better if they leave the app, navigate to the appropriate page in Safari, create an account and return to the app. Nobody else in the world employs designers, so they didn't think of doing it that way.

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Anonymous Coward

Think of the children!

iOS users may be so stupid, they may be "conned" into buying _anything_ they were shown.

THE HORROR!

______

(or just maybe this explains why they _have_ an iDevice in the first place)

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Happy

China syndrome

It's just a matter of time before Apple redirect all traffic through their own firewall to eliminate this type of scurrilous behavior on the part of their users.

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Oh the horror

Their own browser allows people to buy things online.

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Stop

Anti-competitive?

I'm puzzled, but how is this different from (or worse than) Microsoft's old practise of only bundling its own Browser with its OS?

I mean you buy a smart phone, but then you are restricted to only adding apps to that phone from the apple store (at least with MS you had a readily available option to dl your own browser) unless you jailbreak the phone which voids the warranty.

The apps within the store are limited to only apps which enrich apple themselves.

Google is just as bad apparently...

Is this practise not illegal under European law? or am I missing something?

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Re: Anti-competitive?

I was just thinking the same. It's one thing to be suspected of anti-competitive behaviour, it's quite another to provide such hard evidence..

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Re: Anti-competitive?

actually what is illegal: the warranty void after a simple software manipulation.

Imagine your laptop not serviced b/c you have linux on it. I am quite positive that would be illegal to voluntary dismiss the 2y warranty in most EU countries.

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Re: Anti-competitive?

The difference being that MS got stopped (quite rightly) from doing it precisely because it was anti-competitive.

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Re: Anti-competitive?

I've been wondering about that since they brought out the iPod and forced everyone to use iTunes.

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warranty void after a simple software manipulation

Installing Linux shouldn't break your warranty, but upgrading your BIOS quite possibly should since this can easily kill the thing... isn't JailBreaking more similar to the latter?

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how is this different

MS had a monopoly on desktop OS which they used to gain a monopoly on browser software. Apple do not have a monopoly on smartphones, they're not even the biggest market share.

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Re: Anti-competitive?

"actually what is illegal: the warranty void after a simple software manipulation."

Depending on the stance taken, i also understand that as you own the device you are allowed to do whatever you like to it. Including take it apart, attach some leds and wings and fly it around the room like a UFO. Or in the iCrap case use it as toilet roll when desperate. Completely legal. So you might argue that jail breaking is someone doing what they like on a device that they own.

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Re: Anti-competitive?

That was fine, right up to the DMCA got involved, now it's a little murkier.

If jail-breaking in any way (N.B. I don't own an iThingy and have no intention of) requires the use of anything Apple decide is proprietary and secret, you fall foul of DMCA and they can quite happily void your warranty.

Also, the warranty and/or guarantee is based on using the device in the manner it was meant to be used or in a manner you were advised it could be used (the latter to cover people in shops who say "can I use x to do y", if the shop says you can and in reality you cant, you're covered). Arguably, given the iThingy doesn't have a big button on it that says "Jailbreak here", you aren't using it as intended and voiding the warranty may be applicable.

However, all this depends on precisely why you want to use your warranty - if it's because the device caught fire whilst you were making a phone call, arguably the warranty should still apply, irrespective of what you had done to the thing (unless what you did was to set it on fire whilst making a call).

Warranties worked very well when devices were one use items.

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Re: Anti-competitive?

I am not sure in EU law if it is anti-competitive;I think it may fall closer to restrictive trade practises.

In order for companies to conduct trade on the apple platform, apple restrict the method through which the companies can reach their customer and generate revenue without using the apple approved method that skims 30% off the top. People will say then don't develop for the apple platform; but the fact is that in the eyes of EU law there is a market place in existence where companies trade revenue with customers (Apple store) and the methods apple use to allow people to play could be seen as restrictive and profiteering.

It is a very murky subject and the lawyers would make a fortune, so it would need someone with deep pockets to pick the fight. I was always disappointed Amazon walked away from the Kindle fight.

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Coat

just

Just give Apple their 30% and be happy

Mine is the one with the free 50GB box account in the left pocket

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yet another reason

not to use ithings

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the way I have understood googles stance on in app purchases is: they want control over it to allow for a better user experience. Currently there are so many ways that people can make in app purchases that its horrendously disjointed. There have been parents complaining that their children are buying in app items and the parents didnt realise. yes, the parents should be doing a better job but with a standardised way for payment it would be easier to handle. As for the apple stance on things, i don't understand how you can stop someone going to a website and signing up. its a typical apple thing to do, block anything which might compete. With the currently cloud storage market heating up its just one way apple can abuse the companies that keep them alive.

Apple must have some of the smartest brains in the world working for them yet they can't see that the rest of the world looks at them like a little kid throwing a tantrum.

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I'm a dumbass, but surely giving the opportunity to "buy more storage" from within that app will fix this gripe.

Having said that...FFS Apple...really? And how far do you take this new stance? If I use the FT app to setup a paid subscription, you'll ban that? How deep into the 'safari site' do you need to go to be no longer under Appstore in-app buying rules? 1 page? 2 pages? 10?

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Anonymous Coward

Not seeing a problem here.

I'm not seeing an issue here.

You can still use dropbox via the official client and apps can link to it. You can sign up for a paid or free account online. All Apple is saying is if you try do this "in app" then we want our 30%. Now that is a seperate issue and more a business rather than a technical decision for developers/Dropbox.

It's no different from the Kindle app. I buy my books online and read them on my iPad. No big deal.

Also I acn't see how Apple are anticompetitive as they are not banning dropbox just an account sign-up method which breeches a clause in their terms and conditions which has been in place for some time so developers can't calim they didn't know about it.

Let the down votes begin!

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Anonymous Coward

Breech = your bum

See title.

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Anonymous Coward

I blame the developers

Why are people wasting time developing (cr)apps for this Tomy time makeup bag accessory anyway?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: I blame the developers

Thank you to the one Apple fan that down voted.

We were worried you had become extinct.

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Just hike the price in the stores and offer a cheaper price outside.

OK never read the conditions on this but can't the people developing just hike the price in the in app purchase to cover the cost and then in the app state that if you go direct to the site you can get it x% cheaper.

The interaction is there for the people that want to pay the tax but if you want the lower cost the user experience is only slightly changed?

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No

They are not allowed to do that as the laws of Apple state the products must be the same price everywhere.

So either they cripple all non-Apple sales by increasing the price or they just take a loss for the privilege of reaching iThing users. Many businesses work on mark-ups of less than 30%.

Not to mention that the in-app purchasing is an absolute nightmare. You can't implement or test it until your app is approved. And then you have to manually add each product you want to sell to the iTunes store via a web interface. Future maintenance of the product catalogue thus becomes more demanding.

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Holmes

Re: No

Isn't insisting that the price can not be different 'Retail Price Maintenance' ?

That's illegal, at least in the UK, don't know about elsewhere.

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One more reason

... were it needed, why I will not have Apple products in the house. I still haven't recovered from Apple breaking their agreement with Apple not to use the Apple name in connection with music, that was evil.

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WTF?

What I cannot understand is what makes Apple or Google think they are entitled to any cut of in app purchases?

When I pay for a taxi, the car manufacturer doesn't get 30% of the fare

When I go on holiday, Boeing or Airbus don't get a cut

When I watch satellite/cable TV, the TV manufacturer gets nothing

If I buy something online, the laptop manufacturer gets not a penny

So, why do Apple and Google think they should get a slice of the money if I buy somethng using a phone running their operating system?

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@thesykes

They are providing a payment service, and are entitled to charge whatever percentage they like for that service. The bullshit is that app devs can't tell Apple where to shove their service - the use of that service is mandatory for in-app purchases. It now also seems that not having in-app purchases, choosing instead to link to a completely external (to the app and Apple) web page for purchases is also against the rules.

BTW: I love my iPhone, but I am under no illusions that Apple aren't the biggest shower of bastards.

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Re: @thesykes

30% for a payment service? Imagine the outcry if Visa, Mastercard or Amex decided to up their commission to 30% of every sale?

Surely such charges should come under the scrutiny of financial watchdogs? If they provide no other additional service other than payment processing, they should be brought into line with other such companies and forced to open the market up.

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